Wednesday, July 31, 2013

the golden girls

Quite some time ago I posted a story [aptly renamed “battle of the bins in the burbs”
by the insightful Andrew of High Riser fame]. 

Perhaps you’ll let me digress in a stream of Beckettish absurdity [not original]

A cow stood on the railroad track
The driver rang the bell
But did that cow move off the track?
It did – like ****** hell…

By which I mean to answer the question “has the battle with the bin duffer next door abated?” with the response “It has… like ***** hell.”

Oh, all right… here’s the rest of it so you can actually concentrate on the bin saga leaving me free to continue

There was a crash
A mighty smash!
Bits of cow did fill the air…
One teat fell into an old maid’s lap
Which did her bosom thrill;
She cried aloud to all the crowd
“My God… the driver’s killed!”

Now, back to the bins. Mr wotsisface has spent the last 12 months collecting photographic evidence of all the transgressions of all his neighbours. The housing estate is about 40 years old and most houses have single driveways.

We live on a very odd-shaped block which has a very small frontage and there is no room to expand. Aunty’s car is often blocked in by TO’s in the drive, while my lovely new blue broomstick is in the street. The nose of said broomstick protrudes across part of Bin Guardin's street frontage. He is always careful to park his car in such a way that it takes up two and a half car spaces, lest anyone have the gall to use any more of “his” parking space than I already steal.

The nice Mr C on the other side has adjusted to 21st Century reality and extended his drive into garden space so it might accommodate family car, horse float, trailer, 4WD what pulls the float, and cars for each of his 3 adult kids, but we still have just a tiny single drive with a teeny tiny carport.

Mr C parked his work vehicle in front of the Bin Gaudin's place one day while rearranging deckchairs in his own parking lot. Motor still running, Mr C jumped out to make sure he was not obstructing any of Bin's drive and, before he could leap in again to reverse another 6 inches, Mr Bin leapt out with a camera and took shots from every angle to prove Mr C had parked illegally.

Every time a car moves, a photo is taken. Every possible combination and permutation of cars in streets and driveways has been recorded. It’s Google street-view to the nth degree.

TO pulled up in the end of the court a few weeks ago and Mr Bin Guardin started clicking away. TO alighted from her vehicle, turned to face him and said “Why can’t we just be good neighbours? What have we done to you?”
Not having a telephoto lens, he moved in physically rather than figuratively in order to get a closer shot of TO “taunting” him.
That’s when it happened. Something strange came over her, causing her to channel one of her alter egos – Lady Priscilla Beauchamp-Smythe who had romped and posed coquettishly on the grand piano wearing nothing but a pink leotard and a pair of diamante earrings at her 60th birthday party.

Fast forward to the other night when two young but senior policemen, who had either ingested a lot of steroids while pumping iron or had failed to realise their T shirts were very tight, started knocking on doors in the court.

They had, it seems, a file 4 feet thick of the goings on in the court – including photos of a work vehicle obstructing Bin Guardin’s driveway, and a report from the man what drives the rubbish truck who had copped a heap of abuse on the aforementioned day of the battle of the bins.
[If the file contains some pseudo-titillating shots of Lady Priscilla, neither of these young chaps were about to admit to having seen them. Perhaps they aren’t as tough as they look?] But I digress again…

TO mentioned in the list of “it might have been him but we have no proof” incidents she was relating to the Peelers that her flagpole had mysteriously broken off at the base only weeks after it was first raised.
“Aha!” I happily leapt in, “So, you admit it wasn’t me!”

Do we feel threatened? I don’t. Not personally. The man has issues, but now that the council has advised everyone in the court where bins must be located for collection, he doesn’t bother me at all.

TO offered her own take on the situation… There is an elderly Aunt here, and TO and I were getting on [I kicked her under the table but she did not press charges]. TO feels a bit threatened.
“We’re just the Golden Girls”, she joked, “And I’m the slut”.

I waited til they left before suggesting they probably believe she is a slut, but are far too young to have any idea who the Golden Girls are.

Mr Bin Guardin has suggested we are all a bunch of racists. He always says hello and smiles to JJ when she sees him, but probably doesn’t realise our Filipina housemaid gets 35 cents an hour – way above the award. No need to pity her at all, really.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

victoria – the investment state

Forget the desalination plant debacle – how about these poor sods who have invested in an apartment block soon to be smack bang in the middle of the unwanted, hideously expensive, hideous east west link…


The Fktn hospital has been in the news again, a widely published photo showing how badly the hospital is performing. I’m not sure suggestions the hospital is neglected are fair, as a new, multi-story car park has recently been opened, and it’s a corker.

YouTube is awash with clips showing what happens [not] when people turn up at the Franger ED looking for help. A great deal of the footage is recycled annually for the holiday season.

A few days ago The Age reported that because of its underperformance the Franger hospital will miss out on a $12 million funding bonus.
Well, that makes sense.

Thank God our economy is being run by people with business savvy.


The 2-speed economy I’ve been whingeing about for ages, the recession I’ve been whingeing about - but which, officially at least, exists only in the mind of the opposition leader – continues to bite.

A certain recently deposed “leader” put in a good fight at the last election. No cheap, negative 3 word slogans from her, she came up with a 2 word slogan; “Mervyn Ford.” Prophetic, really, now that Ford are definitely Mervyn.

She also crapped on endlessly about the hard working men and women of Orstaylya, not making the point that anyone who had a chance to work was fortunate indeed, but implying they were the only responsible people in the country.

She made a good job of sucking up to the unemployed whenever there were mass layoffs, but seemed not to give a rat’s when ‘only’ one or two lost their jobs. Make no mistake; the nearest Centrelink office would be in Malaysia if she had bothered to talk to them before opening her gob.

The Queen is dead, long live the King.

I’m not sure what has been worse, her nibs blatantly denying Treasury reports that things are dire in Victoria, or the Rabbit and his bellicose offsider doing their darndest to talk the economy down.

If the opposition live up to their title of opposition and start moving the military about in an attempt to imitate Cnut and turn back the tide, I bet they accept the best offer and privatise the supply of uniforms, arms, training and operation. The chappies who run our offshore detention centres will have a pretty good shot, with their track record. War is always good for business, but whose business will it be? Ours in moral terms only, I suspect.


After a frustratingly long period I finally gave in, last year, and accepted a 3 day a week job in Thomastown – 75k drive in each direction.
That went well til, say, May. I love the job, and love the people I work with. It’s a small oasis of sanity and intelligent humour in an at times mediocre world. If only there was some business.

Other employees were cut back to 4 days a week, but I remain a casual and some weeks do not get one day of work at all. Some days I have turned up and after 2 hours volunteered to leave because I can’t bring myself to sit around doing nothing. Last week two people were made redundant.

If there are no problems in the manufacturing industry it is only because there no longer seems to be a manufacturing industry.

I take comfort, though, in knowing that I am doing less now to contribute to the cost of eastlink. It also comforts me to know the local member for Franger has been able to go on a fact-finding mission overseas without threatening Victoria’s Triple A Credit Rating.

Aunty’s son sometimes sits in his employer’s office hoping there will be work, but most of his income for the last year has come from one day a week of moonlighting as a delivery driver, working for a minimum wage.

Aunty’s oldest daughter, whose life story suggests she offended someone mightily – or quite a few someones - in a previous incarnation, finally got a job 18 months ago. Unfortunately, it involves processing payments for salary packaging.


We have a federal government and a state government, each of them slices of not terribly nourishing white bread, with a whole heap of people sandwiched between.

For a long time my greatest wish was that Loathsome Labor could cobble together another precarious government after the 2013 election. Bit of a bummer that all the independents are retiring.

My only immediate concern, however, is that an election date must be announced soon, an election had soon and, whether the result be good or bad, some certainty be restored to the economy.
Nobody is going to invest in anything in this state til they know what sort of crap will affect their bottom line for the next three years.

Well, maybe the state government will – the more stupid and expensive the idea the better.

Oh, and property developers. A fifth floor apartment with 360 degree views of freeway interchanges shouldn't be too hard to sell.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

and now for the news…


The Premier of Victoria, Dennis Naptime, today announced that anyone travelling into the CBD by car would be turned back. A feasibility study costing $5.2 million has been commissioned to look into the feasibility of establishing a permanent traffic jam in Hoddle Street. It's feasible this might act as a deterrent to motorists intent on driving to the CBD. Anyone who does get through will be promptly fined $20 for every hour they occupy city space.

One idea under consideration is inviting tenders from experienced corporations to secure the border. “An independent body will be established to ensure the fines are administered fairly,” Mr Naptime was quick to reassure taxpayers concerned that it might actually cost something to collect the money.


An independent study has shown that plain packaging of cars discourages people from using them at all. Taxis, all painted a generic yellow, were used as a control group in the study. Passengers who had travelled from the airport to the CBD, surveyed by a well known international marketing group, overwhelmingly reported the experience as horrid, disappointing, or not very pleasant at all.

Most said they would probably try to quit travelling to Melbourne, and keep trying to quit until they succeed once and for all.

The few passengers who did not complain about travelling from the airport to the CBD were former federal politicians. While they agreed bus or train would probably be faster or more convenient, they were prepared to put up with the negative aspects of air travel for a free spot in business class. They also conceded that government cars were once cheaper, but the government car pool had been privatised.

“Having too many cabs lined up at the airport simply means private enterprise works,” said one passenger who wished to remain anonymous. “Some drivers balk at the idea of short trips, but are prepared to negotiate reasonable compensation with any intending passengers who wave blank cab vouchers in the air,” he said.


Melbourne tradition has it that an egotistical Irishman, Robert O’Hara Burke, is wandering lost and disoriented around Royal Park, leading a pack of camels.

This is, of course, a myth. An American Marine camped at Royal Park in 1944 found Burke wandering lost and confused, but Burke was not leading a pack of camels. They had all been eaten by Burke in his desperate struggle for survival. Burke has since passed away, waiting in the Emergency Department of the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

When the truth about Burke was re-discovered by Researchers in the Bailleau library, members of PETA [People for the ethical treatment of animals] were reassured to learn the park is not full of feral camels at all. There had been some concern the bloody big hole soon to be constructed there by a privately owned overseas corporation would have represented a great risk to camel welfare.

Royal Park might have escaped animal activist demonstrations, but not so the co with the Fallen Arches. A spokesman for the fast food hamburger franchise has withdrawn plans to build an outlet in the park, outside the Children’s Hospital.

 “This part of Melbourne does not yet have the required population density to make the outlet a commercial success,” a spokesman said. “Until the population of inner Melbourne is denser, there is unlikely to be much demand for beef farmed in former rain-forest areas, or cage-grown chicken products.

The Premier, Mr Dennis Naptime, suggested protesters intent on stopping the franchise from building in the park stop bitching. “If they really believe it is their own back yard,” he said, “then they should mow the bloody grass themselves.”   

Thursday, July 18, 2013

it snucked up outa nowhere

Qu’est ce que c’est, this local government referendum? Apart from doomed? [I hope]

There have been many times I’ve disengaged from the world and its politics – including once not even knowing I was supposed to vote and had a chance to give Jeff the proverbial pencilled finger – but I thought I’d been living in the real world most of the time recently until I heard this referendum was on the agenda.

Perhaps “reffo” would be a better name than “referendum”, given how much these proposals have been appreciated over the years.

By now I guess my regular visitors can predict how I feel about this – you know, blah blah, the constitution is rubbish, this would just make it worse, we need clarity about who is responsible for what so we can have some accountability. Just who “runs” this country – I hear you ask – the feds or the states? Is this proposal to recognise local government just another way for the feds to divide and conquer and blackmail states when making tied budget allocations? Is there some other point to it? Is there any point at all?

Which brings me to a related point, which is the point of accountability. Apart from the possibility of losing votes, just how accountable are politicians to voters? SFA, if you ask me.

A vote is not something a politician “buys” or is rewarded with because what they are selling has merit. If I don’t want to buy a TV from Harv, I can hang on to my money and go without. I don’t have to have a tele if I don’t want one. Too bad if I don’t want to buy a politician, though. The free market analogy just doesn’t apply.

Let’s start with this whole ‘private enterprise is more efficient’ porky. No, it’s not “the dog’s bollocks” as Grace would put it, it’s just bollocks. I’m sure I read somewhere, at least once, that a privately owned business went broke. It can happen.

Do we have to even ask “more efficient than what”? No, agree or disagree, most will infer that the “what” is the “public service”.

Having never been able to keep a job seen the workings of many organisations – both private and public – from the inside over the years, I can assure you that neither sector has a monopoly on waste or stupidity. The story of CY O’Connor has everything in it we need to know about public service, private enterprise, and the non-accountability [i.e. self-interest] of politicians.

Every time the public service shrinks or the functions of a department are sold off to a “preferred” operator, we lose good people along with the bad. We lose the experience and insight and skills of people who have often lived through several changes of management policies, and have a jolly good idea of which policy worked best.

I would not dream of suggesting everything is being privatised because favours are being swapped like some kind of Clayton’s bribes.

My second gripe point is that things are being privatised because politicians find this yet another useful way of distancing themselves further and further from accountability.
Privatisation has two components, not just one. Yes, first there’s Mr Moneybags, or Ms Greed is Good, and everyone benefits if I want to make a profit. 
Secondly, we must have an independent authority/ watchdog/ ombudsman/ commissioner to protect our good citizens if Mr Moneybags or Ms Greed is Good try to make a profit unfairly. To these independent watchdogs our governments delegate authority to make laws, by-laws, rules, regulations and value judgments as they see fit.
The independent authority is the public service you get when you don't have a public service.

One might be tempted to think that recipients of government money [rather than public servants] make laws just to justify their existence.

These authorities might, in some cases, protect our good citizens as well as politicians, and privatisation might even save money – but not until the authority is established.

There will, of course, be a head-hunting fee to pay when we choose an overpriced expert to head the authority – preferably someone from overseas who would be happy to get a 457 visa and work for $2 an hour. The authority will then lease a couple of floors in a nice privately owned corporate tower; it has to be nice or no one will take the authority seriously. The leased space must then be furnished [seriously] before the fun begins … chewing up the whole of the authority’s budget hiring people to run it and create policies and procedures… only to have the whole lot dismantled 12 months later when there is a change of government. [Or, worse than that, it doesn’t get dismantled and we are told we are well protected and it was the other party’s fault anyway.]
This expensive process of getting ready to begin starting when commencement is appropriate could not possibly be worse than a traditional public service. Could it?

Politicians are no longer accountable for the laws they pass because they even pass the buck on passing laws. This is democracy with six degrees of separation.
Two faced. They gets you coming and gets you going.
A contemporary rendition of the god - oddly enough -
known to the Romans as Janus

Personally, I think cyclists who zoom in and out of crowded pedestrian spaces with no thought that they might bump into an elderly or frail person or just scare them to death ought to be locked up and fed sweated-lycra omelets for life.

If pressed, I could probably think up a few more things that shit me and punishments that might be appropriate. But if I had to choose, to live in a nanny state or to not live in a nanny state, I would prefer the second option. Would this make me an anarchist? [Does the split infinitive in this paragraph make me an anarchist?] Should I be handed an on the spot fine [guilty with no presumption of innocence] every time I so much as risk offending someone?

I would like to think that if we had less rules, people would start taking responsibility for their actions just cause they should. Instead of saying “they [i.e. the gov’nmint] should do something about it” people might start considering each other instead of just focusing on whether selfishness is legal or not in this or that case.

Local governments – like state governments, federal governments, independent authorities and electrical goods retailers – are all about “whatever works, whatever the cost” and demonstrating by their words and actions just what they think of the citizenry.

One thing we can be sure of - these laws and by-laws are the worst form of bullying. The big guys are free to build entire suburbs without providing any infrastructure at all... but by golly if you are just a teeny, vulnerable little pleb, don't do anything the tiniest bit "wrong".

Hundreds of councils around the country provide [admittedly exacting] guidelines for the installation of artificial turf on kerbs, but not where these good citizens live. They had the good sense to "plant" some artificial turf on their nature strip but the council declared it was a tripping hazard and gave them the "threat, threat, threat" treatment.

Wot, me vote to provide constitutional recognition of even more dickheadedness? They should save the money this reffo on local governments will cost and give it to someone who would kill for a nice, comfortable piece of artificial turf to sleep on.

Monday, July 8, 2013

unfiltered sewage

TO’s mum has had another fall so yet another flying visit to Albury Base Hospital this weekend. 2 weeks til her 92nd birthday. Luckily [or more realistically, sadly] she is still in hospital but only because of family contacts. One expects that as the costs of caring for the elderly escalate and baby boomers become an even bigger burden, ‘community’ attitudes to voluntary euthanasia will soften markedly.

J is intermittently confused these days, but happily confused – a blessing in itself.
Today we sat in the Hospital’s cafĂ© courtyard sharing ice-creams. Still able to read 6 point type without glasses, replied to TO’s question about what she was staring at “I’m reading what’s in this ice-cream.”
After a short discussion of birds’ nests and various flowers in the garden, she dryly commented that someone in the processing plant had sat on her ice-cream – “it says here ‘sat fats’ “.


Inconceivable, I know, but Fruitcake has been whingier and whinier than usual – my un-posting born of a desire to spare you.
Must catch up on lots of blog reading. but probably will not leave comments as the ‘moments’ have been well and truly lost.


Voltaire observed re-incarnation is possibly a realistic notion, as nothing in nature is ever wasted. These last few weeks I’ve found myself hoping like buggery he was wrong, and there is no such thing as re-incarnation at all. One lifetime of this exasperating crap is enough.

A brief summary of what I would like to say to a few people should give you an idea of what you should be glad to have missed:

To A – a dignified exit, but best riddance.

To B – Now that I have read La Gina’s unauthorised biography and realise all your crap about developing Northern Australia is built on such monstrous notions, I’m scared shitless. Vote for you?
Despite the gross mismanagement of our two-speed economy [and more] I’m hoping like buggery you and your Stepford wife will somehow spontaneously combust. Ashes to ashes, bulldust to bulldust.

To C – F.U. “Now is not a convenient time.” Not convenient?!?! Over the last 9 months you have graduated in my estimation from smart to “useless dick” to “dick-prick”, you sanctimonious, self absorbed bastard. Hopefully in a few months I’ll be free to channel my mother and have nothing more to do with you at all.

To D – Yeah, I’m a grumpy shit. The brevity of my visit is the first honest thing I’ve not said to you in decades. Oh, and BTW… FU2.

To E – My sincere wishes for a long and happy life in mother’s old house. I cannot believe you put up with all that un-necessary crap for 14 months – I certainly wouldn’t have. God bless.

To F – Your self-discipline, self-sacrifice and determination are inspiring. Oh, and I love your intelligent sense of humour.

To G – I will never, ever forget that day about 55 years ago when you read me the story of Rumplestiltskin. Perhaps more importantly, the day you found a rancid piece of chewed meat in my tunic pocket and made no fuss about it at all.

To H – you pompous git. Of course I have the authority to tell you senior management won’t want to talk to you. "Receptionist" is just Orwell-speak for “gatekeeper”. Do you think they can listen all day to such stuff? Get over yourself.

To I – No wonder your employer is going broke. You are a rude, rude, rude, brainless bitch; I’m sick of your phlegmmy coughing in my ear, I’m sick of your insulting, demanding attitude, and I’m sick of having to field calls from customers desperate to deal direct with the manufacturer. 

To J – Your endless patience is unusual and you have my undying gratitude.

To Harvey – now that the arse has fallen out of our dollar, can’t wait to hear your next explanation of why Australian consumers are to blame for your lack of business savvy.

To the Aussies in the motel breakfast room on Saturday morning: – You are disgusting, selfish pigs and I have never been so embarrassed in my life.
To the Japanese guests: ­ you have simply reinforced my previous impressions that you are a thoughtful, clean, considerate race with genuinely warming smiles that melt language barriers more efficiently than a microwave oven.

TO – Olive Juice.